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Speaking My Mind


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A review of AUGMENT: HUMAN SERVICES

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 26, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I require two things from science fiction, plausible science and interesting characters. Phil Elmore delivers this and more in his first Sci-Fi tale. Pick up a copy of AUGMENT: HUMAN SERVICES and enter a dark, dystopian future that is equal parts “Blade Runner” and “Frankenstein”. The tale begins by introducing Agent David Chalmers of the Human Services department on a ‘routine’ investigation in the Tech Ghetto, where all the ‘Ogs’ (people that have had significant or total body augmentations) live. This is anything but routine as Agent Chalmers finds himself embroiled in a dangerous series of events far beyond his experience. Phil Elmore’s narrative paints an entirely realistic picture in which you not only feel the physical hardship of our protagonist but the bruised psyche of a broken society. The action comes thick and fast making this easy to read and hard to put down. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next book in this new series.

A Review of Duke Manfist: Thanksgiving???With My Fist!

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 26, 2015 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Duke Manfist is back to save Thanksgiving. Yes, the world’s manliest action hero returns bringing his particular brand of mayhem to remind us why we are thankful. Read on as a seemingly unrelated assortment of individuals and groups decide to take up arms to stop Americans from eating at the most fattening, artery clogging, and delicious fast food joint in the country. Agent Manfist pursues the criminal mastermind behind the attacks with the single minded, ferocious determination of a wolverine on crack, or Viagra, whatever the case may be, all while steering the labyrinth of less-than-relevant Hollywood actors, doomed side-kicks and cumbersome government functionaries. So raise a glass of cider to Phil Elmore, but don’t try to read this side-splitting parody while eating, you’re nasal passages can’t take it. Trust me.

Film Review of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on June 25, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The Hobbit – A review (Warning Spoilers Ahead). First, let me say, I’ve read both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings more than 40 times in the past 35 years. I know these stories almost word-for-word, so if someone buys the rights and wants to offer these tales in another medium they had better get it right. That being said Peter Jacksons’ big screen adaptation begins differently than Prof. Tolkiens’ work. It starts the week of Bilbo’s 111th birthday party showing the elderly Bilbo sitting down to write the story of how he found the ring as Frodo leaves to meet Gandalf on the road. I can certainly accept this small deviation as it clearly ties this movie to Jackson’s earlier productions of The Lord of the Rings for those that never read the books. The tale then began with the words: “In a hole in the ground…” And moved along nicely from there. During the unexpected party with the dwarves we see Thorin flash-back to the glory days of Erebor and its downfall with the coming of the dragon with some minor ‘Jacksonisms’. The journey continues and the next hiccup came during the encounter with the trolls. Being a purist I was a bit miffed by the slight departure from Tolkiens’ narrative, but I’ll live with it. There was a scene with Radagast the Brown, another wizard that occupied a sentence in the original book, that Jackson apparently felt needed a more substantial role, about twenty minutes more. Now enter a group of orcs that seem to have a blood-feud with Thorin and chase the entire group to the very doorstep of Rivendell (again, this whole scene is an addition by Peter Jackson). During the stay with Elrond, Galadriel and Saruman show up to stick their noses in the story. Yet another ‘Jacksonism’. Let’s move on. The group continues, climbing the mountain pass through the Misty Mountains, and much to my disdain Jackson seems to have taken the attack by the mountain giants literally. They are now mountain-sized giants made of living rock. After a heart-stopping escape the group has the encounter with the Great Goblins’ tribe, Bilbo gets separated from the dwarves, finds the ring, encounters Gollum and narrowly escapes to rejoin the Gandalf and the dwarves. Now, substitute the Blood-feud orcs for the mountain goblins, make considerable changes to the scene in the fir trees and you have another ‘Jacksonism’. The eagles rescue them and deposit the group near the great river and there the first film ends. As would be expected from a Wingnut production the locations, cinematography, casting, acting, music, special effects, etc., were top-notch, but someone needs to engrave the words “J.R.R. Tolkien was a masterful writer and you cannot improve his stories” into a Cricket Bat and smack Peter Jackson repeatedly in the forehead until he gets the point.

A review of The Undead Situation

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on August 24, 2014 at 8:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I just finished reading "The Undead Situation" by Eloise J. Knapp, and where I started off enjoying it, I could only give it 2 stars. This tale had such potential. The concept of a sociopath surviving in the zombie apocalypse, what a great idea. The problem is, after reading the first couple chapters, you realize the main character is not a sociopath. He's closer to bi-polar. If you are going to write a central character that is a sociopath and a gun enthusiast you had better know something about both those subjects. The author’s page describes her as "a survival enthusiast and enjoys shooting and caring for firearms", yet she continually refers to magazines as clips. She even has a female character that is a Marine that makes this same mistake. This is unforgiveable. No Marine would ever make this mistake (I’m pretty sure even Air Force personnel know the difference). Also, sociopaths do not change...EVER! They don't learn to love. They don't grow feelings. They sometimes respect the abilities of other sociopaths, but if you see a sociopath that appears to love someone, they are pretending in order to manipulate that person. Ms. Knapp needs to take a night-course in Psychology 101 and search for a qualified weapons instructor before writing her sequel.

Why do I write?

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on February 3, 2012 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I thought this would be an easy answer but I had to really think about it. I suppose it started when I was about twelve. I would draw may own Super Heroes and of course, once drawn, I needed stories for them, so I started making my own comic books. The art was lame. The writing, even worse. The tales of Archie, Veronica and friends were stories of Shakespearean complexity compared to my pathetic scribbling. Quite frankly I was far more interested in drawing at that time. Thus my scripts were of the most rudimentary sort; Hero sees criminals involved in felonious activity, hero beats up criminals, hero flies off into the sunset.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school, in my Creative Writing class that I realized I actually enjoyed creating a written tale. I wrote a short, pulp style detective story that earned me a B+. I gave it to my friend’s girlfriend to type it for me so I could submit it to a magazine. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for the literary world) she lost it. However, it was too late for the publishing industry, the seed had been planted. I continued to work on my comics, producing tales just slightly more complex than a classified ad for a garage sale. I was a voracious reader throughout my years in secondary school, starting of course, with the pulp serials of Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Norman, etc. I still love the “Sword & Sorcery” genre but my tastes began to mature and I began to explore such authors as Eric Van Lustbader, Tom Clancy, Michael Crighton, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and other authors that put actual science into their science fiction and/or techno-thrillers.

This had two very profound effects on me. First: My selection of literary material was greatly expanded. Second: I began to look for logical reasoning and realistic science in everything I read, as well as the television shows I watched, and the movies I saw. I’m sure you can see the problem. Most shows, movies and books don’t give a rat’s patoot about such mundane matters such as logic, common sense and the laws of physics. Most writers used a very popular method to move the plot along. Something I first heard described by Roger Ebert way back when he and Gene Siskel hosted their own show (where they would critique the latest films). I don’t remember the film but I clearly recall Roger refer to “The Rule of Idiots”, i.e. if it wasn’t for the idiots, you wouldn’t have a story. I saw this rule used time and again in books, television and movies and it would drive me crazy! It’s pure laziness on the part of the writer. Either that or all the screen writers and hack authors actually are that stupid (or they think we are)!

More times than I can recall, I would put down the book or leave the theater thinking, “Even I could write a better story than that.” I found myself critiquing the science and logic of every manner of story whether it was the big screen, the small screen or the printed page. Perhaps this is why I still enjoy the old pulps. As they dealt mainly with magic and the super-natural, which is by its very definition, beyond the laws of nature. Thus you have quite a bit more leeway in plot devices.

Being a great fan of all things (zombie and/or apocalyptic) it pains me somewhat to point out that the godfather of zombie movies himself, the legendary George A. Romero, is guilty of relying heavily on the rule of idiots. I found Tom Savini’s re-make of “Night of the Living Dead” to be a vast improvement over the original. Although to give Mr. Romero his due I believe he was more concerned with the underlying political/social message of his stories as opposed to the science. It was my hatred for the near epidemic use of the “Rule of Idiots” that spurred me to write. I’ve always felt that rather than use idiots to move the plot along or provide a challenge for the protagonist, simply provide a smarter/faster/stronger monster/enemy/antagonist.

Whereas I have had the germ of an idea for this story incubating in my mind for a very long time. I have found my attempts at actually writing a better story embarrassingly slow. Who knew that turning an idea into a cognizant, well-structured tale would be so difficult? Certainly not I. I have done considerable research in a number of complex medical, technical and scientific fields as best I could with a layman’s knowledge and near zero funds and believe I have delivered a scientifically plausible story.

Hard Work and Personal Responsibility

Posted by Doug Jeffreys on December 11, 2011 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I find it a little disconcerting to read a newspaper or watch the nightly news and see the people of Occupy Wall Street and all the “spin-offs” across the country disrupting the everyday comings and goings of honest, hardworking folks like you and me.

As I watched the news the other night they displayed a map of the country with little red dots to indicate each “Occupy” demonstration. Not surprisingly, all the protests were occurring in only the largest cities along the east and west coasts with a scattering throughout the rest of the country such as Chicago, St. Louis, Denver and Houston. Again, no surprises as these are hot spots of liberalism. People that have no concept of personal responsibility or an honest days’ work. My father worked 12 hour days in a steel mill and then worked another 4-6 hours wiring houses, fixing plumbing or repairing cars to provide a safe, loving and prosperous environment for my mother my brothers, my sister and myself. My mother kept a clean house, kept us in clean clothes, cooked nutritious meals and kept us kids on track with home-work and chores. No small task with five kids.

I learned at an early age, you do for yourself. You do not rely on the government for support. That is not what governments do. The government should provide defense, an infrastructure and the freedom to be the best you can be and little else. I grew up and still live in south west Pennsylvania. Folks in this area are very much the same, just like my parents. These folks are my role-models. I’m sure you good people can relate to this as the majority of Americans share this trait of working for what you want, taking responsibility for your own lives and pulling yourselves up by your bootstraps when need be. Being a self-published author has required hard work, self confidence and personal responsibility (http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/85552). I’m not special because I’ve worked jobs I hated so I could pay my bills and provide for my family. I’m sure many of you have been in the same situation and taken whatever job presented itself at the time. You adapt to the changes and hurdles life throws at you. You overcome and you improve your life. That’s what men and women do. That’s what made this country great and that’s what will keep it great.

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